Interview With Luiza Simao

Nowadays, Brazil is almost synonymous with online poker and great players, but there are few who can boast such an amazing balancing act between life and the game as partypoker pro Luiza Simao.

By: Andrew Burnett

The Belo Horizonte-born woman can boast of some excellent results, and has the perfect training partner in her husband - Brazil’s number one pro and fellow partypoker Team Pro João Simao.

HighStakesDB caught up with the deeply thoughtful Luiza to get her views on the perfect poker tournaments, juggling two young children and family life with playing professionally – and who gets a seat at her ultimate home game!

Q: How long did it take for you to catch the ‘poker bug’?

I started to play online poker in 2012, but it was in 2014 when I started playing in the live events. However, 2018 was definitely the best year of my career!

Q: You ran an English school previously – which subject is easier to teach?

Yes, when I was 19 years old I lived for a year as an exchange student in Australia. I went back to Brazil when I was 21 and decided to open an English school. At first I was a teacher, and as the school was growing I hired teachers and ended up focusing more on the business area.

But teaching was always something that motivated me, since watching the student's growth with the studies was very rewarding. I don't have any specific subject but what I liked the most was teaching children and watch their purity and evolution.

Q: What role do you have in the Massari Poker School?

When João and I got married we moved to another city searching for quality of life, and at that moment I had to make the decision to sell my English school because it was complicated at that time to reconcile the life of poker and my school since they were located in different cities. And it was when João and I had the idea of creating the Massari Poker School, with training throughout Brazil and also online courses.

Q: How did the partypoker sponsorship come about?

Most professional poker players dream of being sponsored, João and I always give our best and we knew that at some point we would reap the benefits of this.

Q: What are your favourite/must-play tournaments, live and online?

In live events for sure Millions South America. It's amazing to be able to play such a big/great tournament "at home". It's a wonderful experience!

Online: Powerfest PKO, bounty events have a good structure that allows a patient game, but with all the action and fun of knockouts.

Q: You can choose 5 players for your ultimate home game – does Joao get a seat? Who does?

Joao is the first name that comes into my mind (although the last time we were in the final table in Latin American SuperHH he knocked me over).

Besides Joao I would invite André Akkari, Kristen Bicknell, Maria Lampropoulos and Vanessa Selbst.

Q: Balancing motherhood/family life with your poker career – as difficult as it sounds?

It's a big challenge for a woman to balance her career with motherhood and in poker sometimes is even more challenging because of the tight routine of a player. Motherhood brings you new concepts and tasks. So if you don't take care of it, you will end up doing poorly one of these two jobs.

The cornerstone of that approach is to have an organization about time for each tasks (work or maternal routine) and not losing the focus of what you are and where you want to go.

Q: Playing heads-up against Joao for a big tournament – do you offer him a deal? Or go for glory?

Thinking that everything that is mine is his and what is his is also mine, I would go for glory, it would be very challenging to win a HU with one of the best players in the world. And in case I lose I would still be happy for my husband. It is that famous quote they say: "if you lose it's fine, if you win this wonderful."

Q: What does a typical day in the life of Luiza Simao look like?

In general my life is a mixture of great personal and professional events mixed with a common routine of an ordinary person. Complemented by many unexpected and unforeseen events.

Every day I take care of the whole routine of the family balancing the regular routine of children along with our routine of tournaments around the world and even online games, I have a social project that I also take care of, our companies and of course the rest of family and friends.

Q: What is the state of Brazilian poker when it comes to females in the game?

The number of women at Brazilian poker is growing a lot, and I'm very happy to be part of it all! Being able to demystify the idea that poker is only for men is wonderful!

I have a Brazilian women's group at WhatsApp where we talk daily exchanging experiences, we share the victories and it's BEAUTIFUL to see it! We have a long way to go and it really motivates us.

If 2018 was Luiza’s best so far in poker, here’s hoping that 2019 can at least match it – and with the partypoker MILLIONS Live South America coming soon, she’ll have the chance to show exactly what she’s made of at the poker tables!

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